THE BLOG

Cyclists on the Ark - Raising Funds for Animals in the Flood Hit Balkans.

27/06/2014 10:29 BST | Updated 26/08/2014 10:59 BST

Recently, the Balkans have been hit by severe floods affecting over a million people. This has destroyed thousands of homes in one of the poorest regions of Europe. Bosnia-Herzegovina's foreign minister stated that a quarter of the country's people were without clean water, and that the physical destruction wrought by the floods was at least as bad as that caused by the 1992-1995 war. There were about 2,000 landslides with approximately 100,000 houses toppled or submerged in mud. . Many people both locally and internationally have come together to assist in the rescue effort.

These floods have made the already dire situation of some animals even more difficult. Stray animals appear to be affected more than other animals. People who had to be evacuated in a rush had to leave their pets and farm animals behind. With the infrastructure damaged and the economy severely affected, the situation was a catastrophic emergency.

Thousands of dead cows, pigs, sheep and dogs, as well as other animals, had been left behind after their owners rapidly fled following the heavy floods. Concerned due to the health hazard posed by dead animals, the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told the government, "There are tons of dead animals that we must dispose of".

Efforts were underway to rescue animals that survived this emergency. In Serbia, a website had been set up offering descriptions of pets staying in shelters or with foster carers. Moreover, many animal videos were posted on social networks. Volunteers have been working hard to feed and rescue animals. Brave rescue attempts were made and some images can be seen here.

To assist in this plight, two individuals calling themselves "Cyclists on the Ark" decided to help animals in need. Recently, Živoslav Stević, a 71 year old man and his daughter Milena, aged 35, commenced their long cycle ride of 6500km across Europe.

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They are both from the beautiful city of Chur in Switzerland. The dynamic duo describe themselves as "cycling fanatics". They have apparently been on several long cycling journeys. The longest trip they have done so far was the Eurovelo Route [6]. This was a 4500 km long journey through five of the main European rivers, leading them through the various countries. The journey was completed despite numerous flat tyres, falling into rivers and failing to understand languages such as Hungarian. Their father-daughter debates and disagreements are legendary during these journeys. Undeterred by their playful quarrelling and debates of which direction to take, the duo have embarked on yet another journey for a good cause. The starting point was Sevilla, Spain on the 17th June 2014. The 6500 km journey over 91 days will later follow the Eurovelo route [8] along the Mediterranean sea, with the intention of finishing in Athens, Greece. The shortest daily trips will be approximately 60km [on the mountain routes] and the longest 150 km.

This three month exciting adventure is done to raise funds for animals in need in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. Their Facebook page contains daily updates of Zile's and Milena's trip.

The team would like to "sell" kilometers to an interested audience. They state, " What's the deal? The kilometres you buy, we are going to cycle for you: as your deputy on site and on bike". They then mention, " Everyone can stake his/her contribution on our Facebook page and directly donate to one of the three suggested non-profit organisations dedicated to animal welfare in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. For the donors, as a gift in return, we offer three beautiful paintings sponsored by Matteo Sica's 'Colour Wave Art".

The chosen beneficiaries for this exciting cycling initiative are as follows

1. Association " Action Animals", Serbia.

2. Animal Welfare Advocates For Bosnia - Bosnia -Hercegovina

"People can either donate finances to these organisations directly. Food donations are also welcome."

A final word from the dynamic duo while they cycle across Europe:-

Živoslav Stević said, "Of course it is an adventure - but it is also a responsibility. Fingers crossed that we will make it to Greece. We've just started in Spain, and it seems to me as if we were on the road for a year already...", and Milena told us, "If you think it is sunshine, southern temperature and an easy ride along the Mediterranean coast - forget it. It is straying on motorways or going from zero to above 1000 meters above sea level to rocky and scary mountains... But the biggest adventure ever!"

The incredible journey continues.....

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